Clare and Richard
03/07/2004 – St Mary Magdalene Church, Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire
Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire
photos by Rachel Barnes Photography
Where, when and how did he (or you!) propose?
On our last anniversary Richard ordered me home from work early. He cooked my favourite dinner then took me to see Love Actually. When we got home he was messing around in our house in and out of rooms and asked me if I would indulge him in a game (even though I was dying to go to bed). He gave me a card which had a limmerick inside about when we first met and on the back was a clue to find the next card. There were six in total, all depicting our life together and it ended up in our cinema room where there was a huge bunch of flowers and another card. The limmerick in that one started, together we share everything in life – at that point I knew the last line would end saying Would you be my wife! I of course said yes immediately!
Did you have hen and stag celebrations?
We really went for it here. I went away for a week with 12 friends to Puerto Banus in Marbella. We had an absolute ball!
The boys went to Le Mans for a long weekend. We also both had another separate work do and then a more local one where we went out in the same town and we were both kidnapped and put with the other group. We all met up at the end of the night at a hotel where our friends had arranged for a casino night. It was very messy but a week before the wedding so plenty of time to recover!
Did your groom help you with the wedding planning?
Richard did so so much of the planning. I did most of the creative stuff and he did all the practical chasing up and desicion making. As he’s a consultant he had a spreadsheet for absolutely everything!
Did you use confetti to plan your wedding? If so, how did the website help you?
I visited the message boards every single day and visited the store too for inspiration.
Do you have a confetti web page?
No – not organised enough I’m afraid!
Tell us about your outfit, and where you bought it.
I bought my dress from Caroline Castigliano in London. It was an empire cut column dress in silk crepe and had a puddle train and scooped back. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever worn. It was the second dress I tried on.
Did you have bridesmaids? If so, who did you choose and what did they wear?
I had three adult bridesmaids and one flower girl. My best friend, my very close friend and my sister were the adults. My niece was flower girl. My ‘colours’ were latte, mocha colours with an underlying theme of chocolate brown. All the girls dresses were from Castigliano Collections. They were all different styles to flatter their shapes but all had cholocate brown trim or ribbons where they could. My flowergirl was in a traditional bridesmaid dress similar to mine.
Who did your groom choose for his best man and ushers, and what did they wear?
He chose his best friend and business partner as best man and his two oldest friends and my brother for ushers. They wore navy blue two-piece lounge suits with cream waitcoasts and latte/gold ties. Richard had a bespoke two-piece suit made with cream waistcoat, gold tie and brown shoes.
Did you have a civil or religious ceremony?
We had a religious ceremony with a wonderful forward thinking vicar. We had the London Community Gospel Choir at the service and that really put an upbeat tempo and sense of celebration to the proceedings. Their rendition of ‘Your love keeps lifting me higher’ was sensational. Walking out to ‘Oh Happy Days’ was also fantastic and the whole place was rocking!
Where did you hold your ceremony?
We held it at St Mary Magdalene Church in the grounds of Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire.
Where did you hold your reception?
At Castle Ashby. You can only hire it on an exclusive-only basis so we had the run of the place for the entire weekend and so also had a ‘Pig Roast’lunch on the Sunday with archery and games to really make the most of it.
Did you have any special wedding transport?
I stayed at the castle the night before so didn’t require any transport but my husband arrived by helicopter! I also had no idea that he had arranged for it to come back on the Sunday to whisk us to Heathrow for the honeymoon!
How many guests did you invite to your wedding, and did you have a separate evening guest list?
We wanted a reasonably intimate wedding breakfast so we had just under 100 for the day and then a further 40 or so for the evening.
Did your reception have a particular theme in terms of colour or style?
Chocolate was pretty much the underlying theme – although we didn’t go too garish with it just enough to complement the rich latte colours.
How did you incorporate this in to your table settings?
The table decorations were out of this world. We had square glass vases with 20 or so ‘Grand Prix’ roses. Then we had reed grass coming out of the two sides to meet about four foot above at the top, and ‘Grand Prix’ petals tied to the grass with flower arranging wire. Down the sides of the vases were hundreds of chocolate minstrels! It was very effective.
Did you give your guests favours?
We gave guests a chocolate selection box holding nine chocolates. The only disappointment was that they spelt my name with an ‘i’ after I had proofed it!
Describe your flowers (bouquets and table decorations). Who was your florist?
There were various table decorations in the halls, reception rooms and tables. My bouquet was made up of aspiditra leaves and, almost, chocolate brown coloured anthuriums. It was very modern and unusual. The girls had a mixture, One had a neck choker, one had flowers in her hair and a corsage on her wrist and one carried loosely arranged flowers. My flowergirl had a posy of ‘Grand Prix’ roses.
What did you choose to have on your menu? Did you have an outside caterer or did your venue handle the catering?
We had marinated spring chicken in spices and yoghurt served with a tomato and coriander dressing to start. This was followed by a lemon and lime creme fraiche sorbet. The main course was chargrilled rib eye steak on a shallot hash brown with garlic hollandaise and wild mushrooms. And, for pudding, we had a light lemon and champagne mousse wrapped in white chocolate and topped with raspberry sorbet. The food was out of this world, especially the dessert. The menu was put together with the head chef at the castle and input from us.
What did you choose for your wedding cake?
Our cake was fab – it was a three-tiered stack of suitcases with a separate one to the side. The top was superficial and depicted us sitting on a suitcase with clothes coming out everywhere. She modelled us so well down to the few grey hairs on Richard’s head! It was made up of double choc chip, chocolate and strawberry swirl and a fruitcake. The detail was incredible.
Did you have any entertainment during the day or evening?
Apart from the Gospel choir we had a string quartet while we did the photos and during the first courses of dinner. We also had a nine-piece band in the evening and we had a DJ until 2am. Richard and I did the Argentinia Tango for our first dance – we had lessons a few weeks before and it went down a storm!
Did you have a gift list? If so, who did you have your list with?
We had a list at John Lewis – they were really great and efficient and we got some amazing presents. People are so generous. I have to say though some of the presents we received that weren’t on the list were fantastic and a real surprise.
Where did you spend your first night and honeymoon? Who did you book your honeymoon with?
We stayed in the state suite in the Castle. We had four weeks away touring South Africa and on safari before spending eight days in the Seychelles and then going to Rome for a couple of days. It was Idyllic. Richard booked everything – I had no idea.
What was your most memorable moment of the day?
Walking up the aisle was the most emotional thing I have ever done so probably that, but giving a speech and doing the dance were probably the most nerve racking!
Is there anything you would do differently, or any advice you would give to other brides?
Everyone always says ‘try and enjoy the day’ and that really is the most important thing. I would also say to try not to be too busy in the run up to the wedding, so that you can look forward to it. Richard said we were so busy organising things we didn’t stand back enough to look forward to it. I would also encourage all brides to make a speech – it’s your chance to thank people properly and it feels so good when you’ve done it. Like all other brides I just wish I could do it all again!